Sunday, January 24, 2010

How to Save the World

Turning through an old issue of Metropolis magazine -- "Architecture*Culture*Design-- last night, I came across an interview with a wise furniture designer, Bertjan Pot. He said this:

"I think the best thing you can give to the world is the thing you do best. And if that is making pretty tables, then let it be pretty tables."

And welcome to new regular here, Ketchup.

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Anonymous said...

Your past few posts reminded me of one I heard on NPR about living in the present. Thanks for your humanity Peggy, and not living on autopilot

Living in the Here and Now

As featured on NPR’s website, July 16, 2007.

Six years ago my younger brother Peter, who was my closest friend and the only remaining member of my immediate family, ended his life. Nothing I have ever experienced, or have experienced since, has had such a powerful impact on what I believe.

'Til then life often slid by me, my mind lost in reviewing what had just happened or anticipating what was to come. The present seemed to disappear between the past and the future. The life most of us lead is short to begin with; the more we miss, the shorter it gets.

I vowed to myself that I would honor my brother's death by being present in my own life. I found a new world opened up before me—a life of richer detail, and both wider and wilder. The autopilot I'd been running on for God knows how long finally shut off. I began to see new possibilities for thought, vision, caring, and action: to say what too often remains unsaid, to admit that often I have no idea what to do.

Being present isn’t easy. On a good day, I’d say I’m conscious one to two percent of the time. The rest of the time I’m reacting. Usually those reactions are not particularly thoughtful. They’re just responses, old patterns, or the repetition of what I did yesterday.

Now I try to ask questions, not give answers. This isn’t easy for me to do. I’m someone with a lot of answers. I have to restrain myself. Not reacting takes a lot of work, but the more I’m able to do it, the more I feel like I’m being the person I aspire to be.

I see that my own mind can be my greatest limitation (and on bad days, it always is), or the gateway to what matters most to me—the big stuff—environmental sustainability, world peace, the end to hunger, the beginning of true social justice for all. I used to think that these possibilities were beyond our reach, impossible to hope for, silly to believe in. But if we don’t believe in our own ability to make them happen, they never will.

I've found that my decision to be present, that is, filled with attention to what is, is foundational.

I often cry when I think about my brother. It’s one of the few things I let myself cry about. I missed opportunities with him because I wasn’t present—missed opportunities I will never have again. In some ways he was almost always fully present. He didn’t know any other way to be. I don’t want to miss any more of my life, any more than I already have. By being present and conscious, aware and awake, I believe that I can honor my brother, just a little bit, every day.

Jeffrey Hollender is President and CEO of Seventh Generation, a producer of environmentally safe household products. His previous ventures included adult education and audio publishing businesses. Hollender and his family live in Charlotte, Vt.

Anonymous said...

If it is music, then let it be music!

Nelly Furtado

Peggy Payne said...

Anon One, thanks so much for the story from NPR and for your kind words to me. Hollender could have chosen a lot of different ways to deal with his loss and he sure picked a gutsy one.

Anon Two, I'm with you on the music. Or pretty much whatever it might be. I don't suppose your name is Nelly Furtado?